A much lower-than-expected employment situation was released this month, ending 2013 on a perplexing note.
The economy only added 74,000 nonfarm jobs in December—marking the weakest month of job growth since January 2011 and well below economist estimates. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December. Many analysts are attributing the lower jobs number to bad weather, given 273,000 Americans were not at work because of inclement conditions—the most for any December since 1977.
Much of the job growth this month occurred in retail and wholesale trade, with each sector adding 55,000 and 15,000, respectively. Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in December, gaining 19,000 jobs. Temporary help services added 40,000 jobs in December.
Year in Review
For all of 2013, the economy added 2.2 million jobs – on par with 2012’s gains. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.9 million and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. Only 62.8% of the adult population is participating in the labor market today – i.e. either have a job or are looking for one – which matches the lowest level since 1978.
Job growth averaged 182,000 per month throughout the year, while many sectors added healthy job numbers each month in 2013:
• Professional and business services averaged 53,000 per month
• Retail trade added 32,000 on average monthly
• Healthcare employment gains averaged 17,000 per month
• Construction added an average of 10,000 jobs per month
Temporary Services Ends Year with Explosive Growth
December growth for temporary help services was nearly unprecedented, adding 40,000 jobs to reach another record high at 2,816,600 jobs. The year-over-year growth reached nearly 10% and delivered monthly increases of 1.5%. Market share for the temporary help service sector also reached a new high at 2.06% of all jobs in December. Based on December employment situation numbers, market share averaged 1.99% in 2013, an increase over 2012’s 1.88%. Temporary help jobs rose by 7.6% from 2012, gaining 190,000 jobs for 2013.
Consumer and Employee Confidence Levels Finish 2013 on a High Note
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in December, now standing at 78.1, up from 72.0 in November 2013. The overall consumer confidence level is close to pre-government shutdown levels, according to The Conference Board. Sentiment regarding current conditions increased to a 5 ½ year high, with consumers attributing the improvement to more favorable economic and labor market conditions.
Meanwhile, similar improvements were seen in the December Randstad U.S. Employee Confidence Index, which climbed 0.7 points to 55.2 last month, indicating greater optimism in the labor market, economy and job availability. For the second year in a row, the Randstad Employee Confidence Index has consistently registered over 50 points – the official indicator signifying an overall positive sentiment.
A Look Ahead: 2014 Job Growth
Overall, the economy is projected to generate 2.6 million jobs in 2014, an improvement over 2.2 million in 2013. Many economists attribute the increased hiring to the strength of the U.S. healthcare, energy and high-tech sectors. On the heels of four years of unsteady economic recovery, creating jobs is likely to be a top priority for the nation and individual states alike.
Nearly 572,000 of the expected job gains will take place in Texas and California, according to global economic forecasting company Moody’s Analytics. California, the world’s ninth-largest economy, landed number 15 on Moody’s top states for job growth, but a recovering housing market and the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley are driving the state’s growth. Meanwhile, Alabama and West Virginia are expected to fall below the national average in job growth this year.
The top five job-producing states as estimated by Moody’s include:
1. North Dakota
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